Restaurant News & Reviews

Lexington Bar Guide: Bourbon barrels

Bartender Bobby Wray made bourbon cocktails at the Bluegrass Tavern on Cheapside. When the music is playing outside, it's a packed house.
Bartender Bobby Wray made bourbon cocktails at the Bluegrass Tavern on Cheapside. When the music is playing outside, it's a packed house.

Bourbon, America's native spirit, was born in Central Kentucky. If you want a great selection to choose from, peruse the bottles here.

Bluegrass Tavern

115 Cheapside. (859) 420-2474. Hours: 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Mon.-Fri,, 8 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Sat.

This bourbon bar was once a quiet hideaway on many nights for those who liked to sip nearly every conceivable variety of Kentucky's native spirit. But with the explosion in popularity of the Thursday Night Live event outside its front door, more people have caught on to the tavern's appeal. So come early for serenity. Show up later if you want to sample the on-tap beers including Kentucky Ale or, of course, the numerous types of bourbon while shoulder to shoulder in a packed house.

See: Spend time gawking at the innumerable bourbon bottles along the back of the bar.

The Horse and Barrel

101 N. Broadway. (859) 259-3771. Tavernrestaurantgroup.com/deshas_lexington.html. Hours: 5 p.m.-midnight Mon.-Wed., 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Thu.-Sat.

A good bourbon should be smooth and well-balanced, and at The Horse and Barrel, the pub next to deSha's restaurant, the atmosphere matches its signature spirit. Whisky Magazine named it one of the world's three best bourbon bars in 2008 — but the low-key establishment with its stylish wood décor also is a solid choice for those seeking an ample beer selection or a well-made drink from a knowledgeable bartender while enjoying traditional English fare off the food menu from deSha's.

See: How the bartenders wisely shake the glass while pouring, thus ensuring that your mixed drink is indeed mixed when you get it.

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